PsychoBabel and Skoob recycle knowledge. We have nearly 110,000 books in our London shop and 110,000 additional books online. Together, we offer a unique, high-quality environment for academic book-buying.
and managed by an ex-academic and staffed by experts in a range of
fields, we strive to preserve and develop the second-hand bookshop
tradition of making available academic texts from all disciplines. What we offer is a carefully selected and
prioritised range from our one million plus titles in the Oxfordshire
PsychoBabel began in 2003 when a hospital university department was discarding nearly 10,000 titles, admittedly dated, but still of relevance and potential interest to postgraduate study. The name is an amalgamation of the dominant disciplines of that collection, Psychiatry and Psychology, and the biblical cosmopolitan city typified by a confusion of languages.
Our aim always has been to try and facilitate learning by preserving, cleaning and marketing out-of-print, scarce and otherwise unavailable books, and while we've branched out from the psychology focus in our collection, surely the point of study is to demystify and decode esoteric and obscure terminology for the phenomena of our existence.
Skoob has been an institution in the London Secondhand book trade for thirty years. Founded by staff from the pending closure of Poole's on Charing Cross Road, Skoob's series of shops around Holborn and Bloomsbury were always favourites for the local academic community, businesses, commuters and international tourists. During the 1980s and 1990s there were branches in four countries and a thriving publishing arm. Changing markets led to a two-year closure from 2005-2007 and a change of ownership. However, Skoob has bucked the trend of closing bookshops and, together with the internet trading of PsychoBabel, continues to develop its reputation as one of the world's favourite book stores.
We gather books from large-scale library clearances, domestic reorganisations, academic retirements, sad bereavements, career changes and general lack of space. We've also bought the stock of over a dozen closing-down bookshops in the past few years. Given that our major costs are rent and rates, we aim to get the best use of our storage by pricing to sell, at least 50 percent discount on RRP in the shop, and lower than anyone for comparable quality in the UK online. We're continuously topping up the shelves to the extent it would be impossible to know what we have with a great degree of accuracy in London. In Oxfordshire we add over 1,000 books a week to the catalogue. We have some books that are still in shrink-wrapping, but many more that have been carefully handled. We even have some that have been treated with an excess of affection and personalisation by a previous owner (carefully and accurately described, of course). But that's not to say there's a disadvantage in purchasing well-loved second hand books.
In his Irish Times column, Flann O'Brien explored the concept of commercial pre-reading of worthy books. Why should a wealthy person like this be put to the trouble of pretending to read at all? Why not a professional book-handler to go in and suitably maul his library for so much per shelf? Such a person, if properly qualified, could make a fortune. "Professional book-handlers, he wrote, will maul the books of illiterate, but wealthy, upstarts so that the books will look as if they have been read and re-read by their owners."
Much knowledge is concealed by jargon and, even though we sometimes speak the same language, we can often express entirely different concepts. I'm sure we are continually discovering ways in which our limitations in communication cause us to ignore valuable knowledge derived in other cultures. The multinational and multicultural team working here strive to enlighten ourselves and others through this little book business.
the symptomatology, pathology, diagnosis,
accurately they defined the idiot, the
cretin, the imbecile, the epileptic, the
hysteric, hypochondriac, and neurasthenic.
Instead of admitting that little was known
about what went on in the human brain,
either healthy or sick, the professors
stacked up Latin names.
from The Estate
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Our aim has always been to try and facilitate learning by preserving, cleaning and marketing out-of-print, scarce and otherwise unavailable books. And, while we've branched out from the psychology focus in our collection, surely the point of study is to demystify and decode esoteric and obscure terminology for the phenomena of our existence.
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